Kitchen Therapy


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Rice Pudding with Strawberries and Spiced Hibiscus Syrup

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I love rice pudding.
It’s one of those dishes that takes me back to my childhood both in Yugoslavia and then later here in Australia.
My mum would sprinkle chocolate on top and it was real comfort food to me.

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe sees classic rice pudding topped with fresh strawberries and a spiced hibiscus syrup.
I was surprised by how much I liked the hibiscus syrup. The kids weren’t keen, they said it tasted like medicine! However I loved it. Especially once I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the syrup before serving. The colour was so pretty and vibrant and I think it lifted the flavour of the strawberries. The kids (and my husband) preferred their rice custard topped with just fresh strawberries.

It’s winter here in Australia and it’s been pretty mild, apart from a storm that swept the entire East Coast last weekend.
The northern beaches of Sydney where I live were hit pretty hard, the photo below captures one of the local beaches before and after the storm. It made the rounds on facebook so I have no idea who to credit it to but it captures the impact of the storm pretty well.
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This weekend they are predicting another round of storms.
The rain and the wind were so fierce last time, we were pretty much housebound.
If we have a repeat of this weather this coming weekend I am planning to make another batch of this rice custard, watch movies and keep warm. Maybe try some warm winter toppings on the custard!

I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group chose to cook this week!

 


15 Comments

Chocolate Pudding

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todd's 16th

This week my son turned 16!
His birthday falls at the end of the Easter two week school holidays.
On the first day of the school holidays he went to Chinatown in Sydney with his friends and had a great day at the markets and eating dumplings. The next day he started to feel unwell and a week later we found out he had salmonella poisoning. Luckily it wasn’t severe enough to send him to the hospital but it knocked him around for the entire 2 week school holiday break. He lost a few kilos that he really couldn’t afford to lose so I was excited to get him eating again!

He loves chocolate and I had planned to make this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, the salted butter caramel-chocolate mousse for his birthday celebrations with the family. I left My Paris Kitchen open on the recipe page on the kitchen bench and everyone who walked past and saw the photo was excited! It looks amazing. The problem was that I realised the recipe required raw eggs. Normally I wouldn’t give this a second thought. However, after our salmonella experience I decided (reluctantly) that I just couldn’t take the risk. I broke the news to the family that I would not be making the mousse and my daughter thanked her brother for getting himself sick and “ruining everything”. (I don’t have siblings, I am an only child so I need my husband who is one of 4 boys to reassure me that this is normal!)

I decided to compromise (and I hope the group doesn’t mind) by finding a recipe from David Lebovitz for something similar. I couldn’t go past the Double Chocolate Pudding on his website!
In the past week I have made a double batch of the recipe 3 times. It was surprisingly silky and smooth but not overly sweet. The problem with this was that you could just keep eating it! The third time I made it first thing in the morning and took the photos before everyone came home from school, uni and work. It really was that good! It was also very quick and easy to make. So much reward for such little effort! I know I’ll be making it again… and again… and again 🙂
I know down the track I will make the salted caramel mousse, but for now I can’t say enough good things about David’s Chocolate Pudding!
I can’t wait to see how everyone went with this week’s Cook the Book Fridays group recipe!

 


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Lemon Slice – Australia Day 2016, Dee Why Beach

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Lemon Slice on Australia Day? Why not!!!
It’s straight out of the fridge and icy cold, the perfect bite for out hot Aussie weather.
This fortnight’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was a great addition to our Australia Day Celebrations.

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January 26th is Australia Day and as usual we head out to Dee Why Beach on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
We have bacon and egg or sausage and egg sandwiches.
There are pancakes with maple syrup and butter or lemon and sugar.
And this year we had Dorie’s Lemon Squares!

Australia day 2016

The festivities include a car and bike show, thong (flip flop) throwing competitions, rides, performers and music.
Tattoos are a must, as are hats, flags and anything else that bears the Aussie flag wrapped around your body, your car or even around your house. I usually end up with an Australia flag tattoo on my cheek at some point in the day.
It’s tradition 🙂
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And of course there’s always a few kangaroos hopping about…

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The celebrations start early on Australia Day so we head home around lunch time, when the heat is at it’s peak. We have a rest and put lamb (another Australia Day tradition) in the oven for hours of slow roasting then head back to the beach for a swim while it cooks.
We return home tired and famished. The smell that greets us is soothing and we can’t wait to eat!
This year we will be finishing off a great day and great meal with Lemon Squares topped with dollops of whipped cream.

You can find the recipe (with raspberries added) here.
* We have nut allergies in the house so I left out the almond meal and used normal flour.
I also left off the almond slices that were to be scattered on top of the squares.

 


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Pavlova with Berries and Salted Caramel Recipe

pavolova

Maybe it’s an Aussie thing, but I’m very fussy with my pavlovas.
Glossy, thick, white meringue topped with strawberries, kiwi fruit and drizzled with passionfruit.
It just doesn’t get better than that for me.
The sweetness of the meringue balanced with the sourness of the fruit keeps me coming back for more.
Each. And. Every. Time!

However I’ve decided I need to shake things up and try new things.
So I’m making an effort to be open to new taste combinations.
And when I saw my daughter eyeing this recipe in the latest delicious. magazine, it was time to begin.

Everyone loved this recipe by the way.
I loved the meringue.
I could (and did) drink eat the salted caramel on it’s own with a spoon.
It was heavenly.
So after dinner I gave everyone a spoon and told them to go for it!
And as you can see from the photo, not much was left.
It was a hit!
This pavlova was a visual feast and a taste sensation.

Pavlova with Berries and Salted Caramel
(adapted from Delicious Magazine, issue 132, November 2013)

6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (sifted)
1 1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour (sifted)
2 tsp white vinegar

to serve:
300ml thickened cream
2 tbsp soft icing sugar
2 cups mixed berries

salted caramel:
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup water
300ml thickened cream (at room temperature)
1tsp sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Place egg whites and cream of tartar into a clean, dry mixer bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Add sugar 1 tbsp at a time until all the sugar is added and the meringue is glossy and thick.
Stir in the cornflour and vinegar, beat until combined.
Spread the mixture onto the baking paper in an oval or rectangular shape.
Reduce oven to 130 degrees C and bake for 1 hour or until the outside is firm but not browned.
Then turn oven off, open oven door slightly and let meringue sit in the oven until completely cooled.

To make the salted caramel place sugar in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.
Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.
Increase to medium heat and cook, without stirring, until mixture turns golden caramel (about 10 mins).
Remove from heat and pour in cream.
Finally, return the pan to a low heat and add the salt.
Stir the mixture for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
Pour salted caramel into a container and leave on bench top to cool.
(This recipe makes a lot more caramel than you need!
Leftover caramel can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long!).

To serve, whisk the thickened cream with soft icing sugar until soft peaks form.
Spread over the meringue.
Scatter your choice of berries on top.
Drizzle with salted caramel.

Enjoy 🙂


17 Comments

French Apple Tart

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According to family and friends, there are foods that define me.
Pineapples, coconuts and meringues make them think of me.
(Hey, I could be associated with much worse!)
And when it comes to baked goods they know I’m a total sucker for pastries with apples and cinnamon.
So it’s no surprise that this French Apple Tart was an absolute pleasure to bake and eat.

Soft, mashed apples with a hint of cinnamon, topped with a layer of tender, baked, apple slices.

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It’s amazing what you can make with a few simple ingredients…
Sugar.
Flour.
Butter.
Bread crumbs.
Lots and lots of apples.
And a little bit of lemon juice…

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This recipe is from the book, Baking with Julia and it’s this week’s scheduled recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. If you’d like to see the recipe and give it a try, Gaye will be posting it on her website, Laws of the Kitchen.

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\I decided to use another recipe for the pastry crust however.
I tried the ‘flaky pie dough’ from this book when the group made the Blueberry-Nectarine Pie.
And I didn’t like it.
I’ve tried Dorie Greenspan’s ‘tart dough’ recipe from her book Around My French Table , as part of the French Fridays with Dorie group, and I’ve loved it each and every time.
But I wanted to try something different this time.
I mean what’s the point of buying so freaking many cookbooks if you’re not going to open them up and give them a test run? Right?
So I decided on a recipe from John Barricelli’s The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook and my husband declared it the best pastry he’s EVER had.
He even asked if he could scrape off the apples and just eat the crust!
I have to admit, it was pretty good!
It went amazing well with the tart filling.

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Pate Brisee
(From The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook)

# recipe makes enough for 1 double-crust pie or 2 single-crust 9 inch tarts, since I only needed enough dough for a single 9 inch tart I halved the recipe below#

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.
With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream, a little bit at a time until the dough just comes together. The dough should not be wet or sticky. If the dough is too dry and does not hold together, add a little more water.

2.Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide into two and wrap each half in plastic wrap, shaping them into flattened discs. Chill at least 1 hour before using.

(The book’s author, John Barricelli, gives the following tip:
“When making dough, not only should the ingredients be cold (including dry ingredients) but so should your equipment, including the bowl and blade of your food processor or bowl and attachment of your standing mixer.
I’ve read this tip a few times in different books and decided to follow it. Maybe this is what made it the best pastry my husband has ever had???)


17 Comments

Best Ever Brownies

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help think “best ever” claims just invite trouble!
I mean, we’re all different, with different taste and preferences…
It’s what makes life interesting.

However when it comes to these brownies, I kinda sorta feel the claim is justified.
These really were the best brownies I’ve ever had!
And I’m not even a chocolate lover.

I followed the recipe to the letter.
I knew these brownies were meant to be gooey and fudgey so I fought my natural inclination to keep cooking them until I felt comfortable.
I took a deep breath and removed them from the oven at 28 minutes.
I figured my husband and kids fight over cake batter, so barely baked brownies would not go to waste!

I did not expect to love these so much!
And we all agreed the wet gooey bits were far superior to the better cooked cakey edges.

I used 2 ounces of Cadbury Milk Baking Chocolate and 4 ounces of Lindt 70% cooking chocolate.
So I’m not sure if my milder, sweeter choice in chocolate made a big difference.
But I’ll be definitely making these again.
The entire tray was gone by the next day!

If you would like to try these for yourself, Monica from  A Beautiful Mess is this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia host and has the recipe available on her site!


19 Comments

Chocolate Mousse

I like chocolate.
However I need my chocolate to be part of something bigger.
It can be the star of the show. Definitely.
But there needs to be a show. (No matter how small!)

I prefer it’s sweetness be offset with the tartness of fruit. Strawberries. Raspberries. Pineapple.
It’s texture elevated with the addition of nuts, coconut, honeycomb, popcorn.

I’ve come to believe my chocolate preferences are an extension of my personality.
The part of me that gets bored quickly.
The part that says too much of anything (even if it’s good), can become dull and monotonous.

My husband and daughter do not share my opinion.
To be honest they passionately disagree with me.

So for them, this dessert was perfect.
They thoroughly enjoyed it.

I on the other hand struggled.
I followed Dorie’s recipe and then promptly threw it out.
I did not like it! Actually none of us did.

I turned to my collection of cookbooks and searched the internet to see what I was doing wrong and how I could improve the flavour.

I noticed a few of the recipes had butter added to the melting chocolate and cream mixed into the final product.

I ended up following Dorie’s recipe and then adding the extra’s from Donna Hay’s recipe I found here.

My hybrid mousse was much nicer.
And the raspberries took the taste to another level.
Delicious!

I’m looking forward to reading what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought of this one!